Foreign Policy Blogs

Zimbabwe Diamonds Back on the Market, but What is Next?

I don’t know what to make of the decision by the World Diamond Council, and the United Nations-backed Kimberley Process to allow Zimbabwe to export limited diamond sales from its Marange fields where the regime has been accused of gross human rights violations.

On the one hand, continuation of the diamond market ban would further hurt the already fragile economy of Zimbabwe. And the truth is, ordinary Zimbabweans are the hardest hit by Zimbabwe’s ailing economy than the political elites.

On the other hand, any small amount of international concession is a victory for the Mugabe regime against what it perceive as Western conspired enemies.

I am afraid, but the outcomes of the St Petersburg meeting bolsters the ruling ZANU-PF’s position on the ground, and makes Mugabe an African hero against Western arrogance. Certainly, it is also a victory for Zimbabwe’s neighboring states which backed (partly for economic interest, but mainly for patriotism reasons) him all the way through, and a big disappointment for Non-Governmental and advocacy groups (mainly consisting of elites and international groups) who wanted to see the ban extended.

What is clear, though, is that although the Marange diamonds may be back on the market, the story does not end here. While the St Petersburg agreement is a step in the right direction, this agreement is elitist, internationally driven, and did not include ordinary Marange people in the decision making process. It fails to address the human rights abuses committed against local residents. Nor does it give attention to factors which caused all those local men and women to flock to the fields when word about diamonds discovery got out.

Will the St Petersburg resolution leads to significant improvements in the daily lives of the local population? This question itself calls for the need for a holistic response to the Marange diamond problem to ensure that it contribute to the sustainable development of local communities.



Ndumba J. Kamwanyah

Ndumba Jonnah Kamwanyah, a native of Namibia in Southern Africa, is an independent consultant providing trusted advice and capacity building through training, research, and social impact analysis to customers around the world. Mos recently Ndumba returned from a consulting assignment in Liberia in support of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
In his recent previous life Ndumba taught (as an Adjunct Professor) traditional justice and indigenous African political institutions in sub-Saharan Africa at the Rhode Island College-Anthropology Department.

He is very passionate about democracy development and peace-building, and considers himself as a street researcher interested in the politics of everyday life.
Twitter: NdumbaKamwanyah